Statement from the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators; July 17, 2013:
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (July 17, 2013) – The Tennessee Black Caucus released the following statement in response to the not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida:
“This was a disappointing verdict that just goes to show we have a long way to go until all Americans enjoy true equal protection under the law,” said Rep. Larry Miller, Chairman of the Tennessee Black Caucus. “While we mourn and pray with the Martin family, we must also work hard to stop this from happening to innocent children here in Tennessee.”
On Sunday July 14, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators released a statement of support for the Martin family and reiterated the NBCSL opposition to so-called “stand your ground” laws across the country. In December of 2012, NBCSL ratified resolution LJE-13-06 “urging state legislatures that have adopted ‘Stand Your Ground’ or ‘Shoot First’ laws to reform or repeal them and we also support the review and investigation by the United States Department of Justice referencing the Zimmerman case.”
“Over the next few months, we will work with our fellow Representatives to review Tennessee’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law to determine whether portions of the law need to be repealed or replaced in order to ensure the safety of all Tennessee residents,” said Rep. Miller. “We should look at laws, rules, regulations concerning neighborhood watch programs within our communities; how those programs are structured and operate for safety of the citizens and the community as a whole. No child should ever have to be afraid to walk peacefully down the sidewalk without being attacked because of the way they dress or the color of their skin. The unfortunate death of Trayvon Martin will not go in vain; we must turn a wrong into a right.
The Black Caucus will review Tennessee’s law to ensure the following rights are preserved:
- The right to change an unjust system toward black men in this country to a just system for all men.
- A right that criminal laws both federal and state should be equal for all men and women.
- The right to freely move and travel without being racially profiled.
- The right to be free in a free society.